Background: Outcomes of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in the management of opioid dependency can be impaired by poor adherence and retention, concomitant drug use, poor adjustment of methadone dosage, and low levels of awareness regarding methadone among drug users, among other factors. This study investigated the effects of intensive blended treatment literacy and psychoeducation on treatment compliance, methadone dose, and heroin use among MMT clients in China.
Methods: A total of 492 MMT clients who tested positive for urine morphine at least once during a 12-week intervention period preceding the study were recruited from 16 MMT clinics. Employing a client-centred approach, a blended treatment literacy and psychoeducation intervention was then implemented between March and June 2014, comprising (1) intensified methadone treatment literacy sessions; (2) participatory goal setting; (3) continuous adherence monitoring and support; and (4) engagement of both peers and doctors in delivering psychoeducation. Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to compare urine morphine positive rates, daily methadone dosage, and the number of days that clients successfully accessed methadone before and during the intervention.
Results: During the intervention, urine morphine positive rates reduced to 27% from 49.3% previously; p < 0.001. In response to client needs, methadone dosages increased among 74% of participants, remained unchanged among 12.0%, and reduced among 13.4% during the intervention. In addition, the average daily methadone dose increased from 63.0 to 72.6 mg; p < 0.001, while the average number of days that clients successfully accessed methadone increased from 69.4 to 73.9 over a period of 12 weeks; p < 0.001.
Conclusions: Blended treatment literacy and psychoeducation delivered by a combination of peers and doctors was associated with reduced heroin use, improved treatment adherence, and higher methadone doses among our sample of MMT clients.